Joseph—Grassroots Training Through Satellite Technology

Case study of use of satellite technology in combination with other media and techniques to help educate women members of local governance structure and their right to participate as well as to facilitate discussion on ways to overcome obstacles to participation.

Problems to confront: practical realities of women’s lives, poor self-image and lack of confidence, ignorance about political system, societal and cultural barriers.

Training program: four-day training using one-way video, two-way audio conferencing, beamed to local sites from main national site. Panel beamed and local sites could ask questions via long-distance phone. Also showed prerecorded footage using songs, drama, interviews, and taped group discussions. Finally large part was live interaction and group discussion with local facilitators to discuss footage and panel and women’s own issues.

I thought this use of mixed media and the observations that women were able to identify their own issues in the footage shown and that at the end they began to talk with each other rather than the panel were extremely interesting. The opportunity to hear other people in your situation and to learn in an entertaining manner are important, as is the main stage given to the women themselves and the opportunity to get together and discuss common cause. Facilitators who are familiar with the local context and their ability to use engaging and participatory methods—also key. And I liked that comment—“”the obvious respect given to the target audience in terms of soliciting its active participation in thinking through the issues.. . .all contributed to making the programme eminently acceptable to the watching women”—in addition to the creative video and centre stage for the women. Coming back to the panel’s lack of effectiveness compared to the other parts indicate that broad responses to local situations aren’t so effective (not to mention technical difficulties). I also thought the common purpose and solidarity that emerged were so important. And it was interesting that, despite its success, the government wasn’t invested in continuing the experience beyond a set of video modules.

Lessons from the Program: making participatory methods central though using technology (doesn’t have to be one way lecture or entertainment); “incorporating real experiences and felt needs into the training process; strengthening collaboration between government and non-government sectors [gov’t for resources, organization; NGOs for meaning and local connection], reaching out to large numbers with the help of technology; [the need for] finding solutions to technological problems [lack of resources, tech glitches, lack of trained personnel], further decentralizing the training process [national panel problem, couldn’t answer local ?s, maybe have more FtF or asynch. Bulletin boards; overcoming infrastructural and attitudinal stumbling blocks [resources again, unhelpful personnel, angry or interfering husbands], ensuring equitable access to training [trainers had to help overcome social and economic barriers for the underprivileged/excluded], and planning for continuity and complementary strategies [again, lack of government support for continuation].

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